U.S. President Donald Trump unleashed a full-bore attack Thursday on his former national security adviser John Bolton after Bolton in a new book called the U.S. leader an “erratic” and “stunningly uninformed” commander in chief.
Trump, in a string of biting Twitter comments, called Bolton’s book “a compilation of lies and made up stories, all intended to make me look bad. Many of the ridiculous statements he attributes to me were never made, pure fiction. Just trying to get even for firing him like the sick puppy he is!”
The U.S. leader called Bolton “a disgruntled boring fool who only wanted to go to war. Never had a clue, was ostracized & happily dumped. What a dope!”
Trump has only rarely acknowledged missteps during his 3 ½-year presidency. But he tweeted that at one point early on in Bolton’s 17-month tenure in the White House in 2018 and last year he “should have fired him right then & there!” He said Bolton “stupidly” made comments about the U.S. view of North Korea’s future on a news talk show that complicated Trump’s then budding negotiations with the Pyongyang dictator, Kim Jong Un.
Court order sought
The White House is seeking a court order to block next week’s scheduled publication of Bolton’s 577-page book, “The Room Where It Happened,” claiming it contains confidential national security information that should be kept secret even though several U.S. news outlets obtained advance copies of it and on Wednesday started writing extensive stories about Bolton’s allegations.
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Thursday called Bolton’s decision to go ahead with the release of a book “absolutely appalling" and "despicable."
She rejected as untrue what perhaps was Bolton’s most damning accusation, that Trump sought help at a Group of 20 summit from Chinese leader Xi Jinping in June 2019 to win re-election to a second term in the U.S. national election in November.
Bolton, who was paid a $2 million advance for his book, said that Trump asked Xi to buy more farm produce from the U.S. agricultural heartland to help Trump shore up electoral support in the rural states.
Bolton said Trump “stunningly turned the conversation to the coming U.S. presidential election, alluding to China’s economic capability to affect the ongoing campaigns, pleading with Xi to ensure he’d win. He stressed the importance of farmers and increased Chinese purchases of soybeans and wheat in the electoral outcome. I would print Trump’s exact words, but the government’s pre-publication review process has decided otherwise.”
Based on Bolton’s account, Trump’s Democratic opponent in the Nov. 3 election, former Vice President Joe Biden, accused the U.S. leader of being “willing to trade away our most cherished democratic values for the empty promise of a flimsy trade deal that bailed him out of his disastrous tariff war that did so much damage to our farmers, manufacturers, and consumers.
“If these accounts are true,” Biden said in a statement, “it’s not only morally repugnant, it’s a violation of Donald Trump’s sacred duty to the American people to protect America’s interests and defend our values.”
Based on his conversations with Trump and watching him in meetings, Bolton alleged that Trump thought Finland was part of Russia and was unaware that Britain possesses nuclear weapons. Bolton said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo passed him a note disparaging Trump in vulgar terms in the middle of his talks with North Korea’s Kim during their 2018 summit in Singapore.
Bolton said Trump “second-guessed people’s motives, saw conspiracies behind rocks, and remained stunningly uninformed on how to run the White House, let alone the huge federal government.” Bolton alleged that Trump was always looking to “personal instinct” and opportunities for “reality TV showmanship.”
Criticism from Democrats
Aside from Trump’s attack on the book, Bolton also drew criticism from Congressman Adam Schiff, who successfully led the Democratic effort to impeach Trump late last year for his dealings with Ukraine even though Trump was acquitted by the Senate in February.
Schiff tweeted that Bolton’s staff was asked to testify about Trump’s conduct during the impeachment inquiry last year and did.
“They had a lot to lose and showed real courage,” Schiff said. “When Bolton was asked, he refused, and said he’d sue if subpoenaed.
“Instead, he saved it for a book,” Schiff said. “Bolton may be an author, but he’s no patriot.”